It’s February. It’s flu season. And frankly, we’ve had our share of wintertime chills and thrills around here, including all of us battling the flu, which surprisingly resulted in me developing pneumonia. Ugh!
It’s definitely been a long time since I’ve been this sick, which made me puzzled about what’s up? Bad flu season for sure, but could I have done something more to avoid getting so sick?
I found myself thinking … maybe if I had just eaten more perfectly, or had used essential oils more often, or had taken more supplements, or maybe …
Maybe, I just need to learn to hit the ‘pause’ button?
Personally, after spending a week in bed with the flu, followed by another week in bed with pneumonia, I’ve decided there’s one thing in particular that most of us neglect when it comes to our health – REST!
And by that, I mean resting both the body and mind by making it a priority to reduce the stress in our daily lives.
We’re busy people with busy lives and busy kids. Busy schedules rule our world. The calendar is crammed, the ‘to-do’ is too long and we often get into a cycle of constant activity that can lead to stress.
And when we’re stressed, we tend not to rest, which is what our bodies and minds need most.
Instead, we keep running the race at an ever-escalating pace – trying to ‘do’ even more to alleviate those feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed out.
I know that’s what happened to me. I got caught in the vicious cycle of “too much to do and too little time to do it.” My constant on-the-go, must-do-everything lifestyle is what I blame for my recent health implosion, which led to a new recipe I’m hoping you never create …
Recipe for Disaster
• 1 part too little sleep (be sure to get less than 5 hours per night)
• 1 part no rest (do not stop to rest in any form or fashion)
• 2 parts stress (keep piling on more, you’ll find the time somehow)
Mix these together, and keep mixing, and mixing, until you collapse. Enjoy!
The above recipe really works! But I seriously do not recommend it. See, here’s a pretty picture of me lying in a ball of hurt at the local urgent care while they run around trying to decide whether or not to admit me to the hospital. It’s not a picture I’m proud of, and not because I’m having a bad hair day.
It’s because I know how important rest is to maintain good health, and yet, I stubbornly thought I could just keep plowing away and take time to rest later. (Um, I think we can see that’s not a good idea.)
My point in sharing this is that I know that the majority of you sweet friends reading this are probably doing the same thing. Maybe not with as much reckless abandon as I’ve been … but still … you probably aren’t making “rest” a priority in your life, are you? Let’s be honest.
To promote good health and well-being, our bodies and minds need daily periods of REST, which comes not only from adequate sleep, but also from reducing stress in our lives so that we’re not living in a constant state of red alert.
So how do we hit the pause button?
5 Strategies for Reducing Stress and Learning to Rest
Below are five strategies I’m employing to reduce the stress in my life and make rest more of a priority. These aren’t the only methods for reducing stress and creating a more balanced lifestyle, but they are a great place to start if you’re feeling overwhelmed and not sure how you can possibly find time in your schedule to rest.
1. Calendar Control
Rather than have our calendars rule us, we need to keep a tight reign on our calendars. Easier said than done, I know! But it has to happen so we can focus on what’s truly important, as well as reduce stress in order to safeguard our health.
Blocking out time for daily quiet time and family time has to be a priority that we schedule first in order for it to actually happen. Otherwise, those open blocks of time will always be filled with other seemingly urgent tasks that steal time away from what’s truly important.
2. Learning to Say NO!
Of course, taking control of our calendars often means learning to say no. That can be hard when there are so many good things that we feel we should to say yes to. But if we say yes to too many things, then we end up having to compromise in not being able to do everything with excellence, and we may end up compromising our health as well.
That’s why I appreciate these two posts from The Better Mom – “Saying No to 100 Things” and “When Saying No is the Best Thing You Can Do.” These posts have helped me to see the wisdom in learning to say no. I hope these posts minister to your heart as well, if saying no is something you struggle with too.
3. Daily Quiet Time
As I’m learning to take control of my calendar, I’ve committed to making sure that each day I’ve scheduled time to quiet my body and mind through daily meditation on God’s Word and in prayer. This daily period of quiet time amid the chaos of day-to-day life not only helps me to hit the pause button, even more important, it brings me closer to God.
Personally, the times I’ve been the most overwhelmed, stressed and anxious, have been the times that I’ve found myself chasing after what I thought was best, rather than seeking God’s will for my life. Daily quiet time with the Lord reminds me that He is our refuge, and He promises to lift us up on wings like eagles and give us the strength and grace we need to accomplish everything He sets before us, whether big or small.
4. Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Not only is the right amount of sleep important for feeling alert and energized, it’s also the key to good health in general. Many health benefits result from consistently getting a good night’s sleep, including less stress, reduced inflammation, increased mental acuity, better mood, an improved immune system, and a healthier metabolism.
Experts say adults should aim for 7-9 hours each night. I’ve found that one of the most important factors is to keep your bedtime and wake-up time consistent. This healthy habit helps stabilize your body’s natural circadian rhythm, which not only impacts your sleep-wake cycle, but also influences hormone release, body temperature, cell regeneration, and other important biological functions.
5. Be Present: Enjoy Your Real Life!
How many times do we zip through the day constantly staring at a screen? This alternate realm of existence – texting, social media, emails, blogs – is not only time consuming, it’s mentally exhausting! And, it often hinders us from enjoying the real people right in front of us.
That’s why it’s so important to Look Up! Online friends are great, but we need to make a conscience commitment to taking a break from technology, so we don’t miss out on connecting with the in-real-life friends and family around us. I’m sure you’ll find, just like I have, that you’ll experience far less stress and a lot more joy as you turn off the electronics and tune in to real life.
Finding balance is a process…
I wish there was a magic formula for maintaining a healthy balanced life, but achieving the right balance looks different for each person, although I do firmly believe that reducing stress and finding more time for rest are certainly key aspects in the process.
Personally, since following the above five strategies, I’ve gone from feeling completely overwhelmed and stressed-out, to experiencing more peace, hope and joy, as well as much more gratitude.
I’m learning once again, that reducing stress is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle! And of course, that daily resting in God and His promises benefits the mind, body and soul!
My hope is that you’ll join me in hitting the pause button, and making time to rest your mind and body more of a priority in your busy life too!
Wishing you peace, joy and good health, Kelly